Written by Cherie Massmann, LPC, NCC
Due to the efforts of advocacy agencies attempting to raise awareness about the devastating effects, most people are familiar with the eating disorders of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. All one would have to do is survey the landscape of popular women’s magazines to at least be exposed to these disorder in some way or another. What most people are unaware of is another very common eating disorder that plagues 30%-40% of patients in our society seeking weight loss, Binge Eating disorder. All eating disorders by their nature have elements of shame and secrecy associated with it. However, in my practice I find the patients suffering with binge eating disorder suffer from an extraordinary amount of shame and can interfere with and delay must needed treatment. Patients suffering from binge eating disorder find themselves eating what most would consider a usually large amount of food (usually 2-3 times the amount another person would eat) in a very rapid way, to the point of excessive fullness and in a secretive way. Those suffering with this disorder are not eating for enjoyment and typically report that they do not even taste the food that they are consuming. They do not have a “lack of willpower”, they are suffering from a very real eating disorder that requires treatment.
Often patients are slow to seek treatment because they are afraid of being judged or shamed by medical professional. Research suggests that their fears are justified as medical professionals have been shown to have biases about their overweight patients and their fears are often unjustified. Our goal at McCallum Place and Webster Wellness Professionals is to educate others on the prevalence of binge eating and to provide effective treatment for this disorder. We believe that the key to effective treatment is to remove the shame associated with eating and years of attempted diets and help patients trust in their ability to direct this area of their lives. We understand how very difficult it is to just pick up the phone and inquire about treatment or to walk into our office. This step alone can sometimes take months or years for the patient. However, when patients take this step, the staff here at McCallum Place and Webster Wellness Professionals is here to meet them where they are.
Cherie Massmann earned her Master’s degree in Counseling from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1999. Ms. Massmann is a member of the Webster Wellness Professionals outpatient multidisciplinary team. She provides individual, family and group therapy for all aspects of eating disorders. Ms. Massmann is a cognitive-behaviorally trained therapist with over 12 years of experience treating binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and obesity in adults and adolescents. Prior to joining the Webster Wellness Professionals team she worked as a staff therapist in the Departments of Psychiatry and Internal Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. She has been the clinician of several multi-center National Institute of Health grants including: the Treatment Options for Type 2 Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth (TODAY study), the Comprehensive Maintenance